Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Wayne Chisnall artist interview

One artist who has really taken RCA secret to heart is Wayne Chisnall.  He will be well known to many people in the queue as he has often come down to have a chat with queuers and to hand out stickers etc.  In 2009 Wayne put in an overnight screenprinting and then signing 400 postcard sized prints which he then handed out, for free, to appreciative rca secret campers.  We caught up with Wayne for the next in our series of RCA secret artist interviews.

Wayne's blog is here    and you can follow him on twitter.  He also has an excellent flickr photostream.

You've really embraced RCA secret in the last few years, turning up on the day of the sale and handing out a limited edition print in the queue etc, what is it about the sale that you like?

There’s always a great buzz around the RCA Secret show and not just from the people who turn up to buy. I know a lot of other artists that submit work every year and they all look forward to it.

What do you think of the people who camp out all night, or even days, to attend the sale?

You've got to admire their dedication. There seems to be a great community spirit amongst the members of the little shanty town of tents that you see outside the show every year. I'm always tempted to join them just for the experience.  

Do you like looking round the postcards yourself?  What work appeals to you?

I love checking out everyone else's work. I'm mostly interested in the drawings and some of the painted postcards. I like to see evidence of hands at work and I think that drawings tell you a lot about the person that made them. It’s sometimes easier to hide behind a painting but drawings are somehow more telling. But saying that there are always lots of fantastic prints and photographs entered every year.

Have you ever bought anything from the sale and what did you get?

I've only once bought any cards from the show. It was the first time that I entered the raffle to win one of the first few places in the queue and my ticket got picked out of the hat. That year I only had time for a quick half hour look round the gallery before it shut so I just ended up buying 3 drawings that I liked but didn't know who they were by and a lovely painting by Elinor Evans. At the time I didn’t know who she was – I just recognised her painting style from seeing some of her full size work in a show earlier on that year. I do also have a Marc Quinn postcard but I won that years ago in a Time Out competition. 

Do you have a favourite card that you have donated to a previous sale?

I think that some of the ones that I did for last year’s show are among my favourites. I particularly liked drawing the tentacled orifice box postcard and the jellyscuttle one – a larger version of which I seem to remember someone, not too far away, commissioning me to re-draw for their wife’s birthday or xmas pressie (ed - It was Christmas and it now sits proudly framed on the wall!). I’m also fond of last year’s maudlin and sexually frustrated potato shoot creature which was a sort of sequel to the previous year’s ‘Love Is’ card. As some people already know, I submit a card or two every year under my other name, Chig, and I’m pleased with how the two Chig biro drawings turned out last year. One was a kind of winged torpedo and the other was a werecrow – a crow with human hands.

Tell us a bit about your work and what influences you?

As with most artists a lot of my influences come from outside of the field that I work in. My sculptures probably owe more to my childhood love of gothic horror movies and strange animations than to they do to sculpture. I’m a big fan of the short animated films of the Brothers Quay and of Jan Svankmajer. Their attention to detail and the materials that they use have definitely steered some of my work down a various paths.

There are also a lot of reoccurring themes or motifs that pop up in my work. I’m passionate about boxes, towers and things on wheels.

Some people have commented that they think my work is a too dark but I think it’s just a symptom of a very English sense of humour.

But ideas can come from anywhere really (it’s amazing what the subconscious mind will throw together) and I think that some of the most interesting work often comes out of a meshing of disparate themes.

You are clearly in love with drawing, where do you think that came from?

It’s something that I’ve done all my life. As a child I was obsessed with drawing – probably even more than I am now unfortunately. My father was a tattooist and used to paint so I guess that I got the creative streak from his side of the family as my mother claimed that she couldn’t even draw stick men.

I find that the process of sculpting tends to generate far more ideas for 3D works than I’ll ever be have time to make so I have piles of sketchbooks full of drawings and instructions for the construction of potential sculptures. But as long as the work exists in one form or other I’m happy – and it’s useful to have a back log of ideas that I can dip into whenever I want. I’ll sometimes flick through an old sketchbook from ten or twenty years ago and find something that I’d forgotten about but which might inspire a new piece of work. I suppose it’s all very self indulgent when you think about it.

Have you got any projects on the go at the moment?  What can we look forward to?

I’ve just finished a sculpture that looks like a tower block perched on top of a small planet. It’s based on some old sketches and was something that I made whilst working on a tall orifice tower which is nearing completion. I’m not sure when they’ll get exhibited but I am showing my City sculpture (the one that looks a bit like a mobile cabinet of curiosities) in a show at TROVE in Birmingham on the 21st October. The exhibition is partly organised by the Minnie Weisz Studio in King’s Cross and the show will be travelling to London early next year.

I’m also involved in a project with a tile company called Domus. They work closely with architectural firms and are building a new showroom in Clerkenwell that will include an art exhibition space. As well as showing some of my work in their new space once it opens I’ve spent the last few days working with a team of artists, painting a 33 metre long hoarding that I designed.

There are a few other projects in the pipeline but it’s still early days so I don’t have a lot to say about them yet.

I suppose that I should really make a start on my postcards for this year’s RCA Secret Show – the deadline for handing them in is getting uncomfortably close.

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